Archive for water saving

Saving Water: A Practically Green WebinarWater saving products are a favorite topic of the Professor’s, so Practically Green‘s recent webinar that featured expert panelists from American Standard, the EPA’s WaterSense program, and a variety of other organizations was a treat to join.

Michele Hudec, vice president of product and business development at American Standard, was selected as a panelist because of the company’s water conservation activism, as well as its investment in developing such an impressive selection of stylish, high-performing, water-saving products. American Standard offers the most WaterSense-certified toilets that also achieved the highest MaP score for bulk removal than of any of its competitors. All of American Standard’s bathroom faucets are WaterSense approved, and the FloWise collection of low-flow shower heads are recommended by Consumer Reportsfor their performance and energizing spray. The company also offers a full line of water efficient commercial products including toilets, faucets, and urinals that require a pint of water or less.
Stephanie Thornton from the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program was also a great guest, as she was able to explain the many benefits of the program. The WaterSense label makes it easy to find water-efficient products and also provides a neutral, third-party verification of a product’s claims about water use and performance. The Professor was impressed to learn that approximately 4,000 products currently carry the WaterSense label. The WaterSense website also offers a “We’re for Water” Pledge, a calculator to help you determine how much water you can save by switching to WaterSense-approved products, and a fun quiz to test your knowledge about water conservation.

For more information about the webinar, watch Practically Green‘s website for a review!

Design bloggers tour the American Standard Design Center. To see more photos of the trip, click the photo.

Earlier this month, the Professor was fortunate enough to spend a day at the American Standard Design Center in Piscataway, NJ with a select group of the movers and shakers of the design blogger world. It is a pleasure to share their insights, reflections, humor, and excellent photographs of the trip:

Paul Anater, who blogs at Kitchen and Bath Residential Design, was especially impressed with some of the company’s unique and functional designs and the fashionable digs the bloggers enjoyed in New York.

For J.B. Bartkowiak of Building Moxie, the trip offered opportunities to reflect on design, innovation, performance, and the impact that brands can have when they build intimacy with customers.

Meanwhile, the engineering department’s space age 3-D copier was a big hit with Laurie Burke of Kitchen Design Notes. (The Professor also appreciated the occasional plumbing pun she threw in for good measure, naturally.)

Andie Day (and her photographer’s eye) especially loved the great views and fashionable setting of the rooftop of the Standard Hotel, where the bloggers gathered the night before their Design Center tour.

American Standard’s many green initiatives, including the eco-friendly Design Center and strong emphasis on water conservation, were particularly appreciated by Saxon Henry of Roaming By Design.

Saxon and her business partner Rich Holschuh also wrote about the company’s fixture fixation, the “stylish verve” of the American Standard design team, and shared a video of a portion of the tour on the site for their social media consultancy, Adroyt.

Great shot of everyone: Laurie Burke, Rich Holschuh, Saxon Henry, Andie Day, Paul Anatar, J.B. Bartkowiak. To see more photos from the trip, click the photo.

Many thanks to everyone who attended! The Professor had a marvelous time getting to talk plumbing with everyone and truly appreciates everyone’s thoughtful commentary.


Saving Water & Looking Great

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Switching out an outdated faucet can do wonders to perk up your bathroom, but there are other great reasons to upgrade to a stylish new model – like conserving fresh water resources, for instance. Many of the most attractive faucets on the market right now are WaterSense certified. Watch the video below for more info, or start shopping for water-saving faucets now!

Earlier this week, the Professor posted video clips from a recent interview with Brian Richter, the Director of the Global Freshwater Program at the Nature Conservancy. Just in time for Earth Day, here are the remaining segments of the interview.

In this clip Brian discusses rates of water use on a national level and both he and the Professor share their recommendations for how to save water at home without sacrificing performance or style.

Next, Brian talks about how his interest in water conservation developed on a personal and professional level.

Brian concludes by sharing 3 sensible tips for saving water around your home and explains the connection between saving water and saving electricity. He and the Professor talk about replacing toilets, faucets, and showerheads and agree that most modern water-saving products are designed to be easy to install without the help of a professional.

The Professor would like to thank Brian Richter for sharing his knowledge and insights, and sends Earth Day wishes to everyone at the Nature Conservancy.


Home Remodeling Goes Green and BLUE

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American spending on home remodeling projects has been rising in recent months, and the Professor notes that many savvy homeowners are taking advantage of these opportunities to incorporate energy and water-saving changes into their plans. Greening your home in this way is not only great for the environment, but will save you money in the long run, too.

The December issue Kiplinger’s Personal Finance featured a selection of product reviews to help consumers get the most bang for their buck from these upgrades, and on the top of their list was installing American Standard’s Cadet 3 toilet in your bathroom. Kiplinger’s notes that for each member of your household, the toilet will save 4,000 gallons of water and $25 annually.

The water-saving Cadet 3 FloWise toilet from American Standard

In addition to these projected water savings, the Professor especially appreciates the consideration that Kiplinger’s gave to product quality in their recommendation. Many low-flow toilets lack the flushing power to thoroughly clean the bowl after every flush, making frequent plunging and double-flushing necessary. And if you are constantly having to double-flush your toilet, you are also flushing away most of your water savings at the same time. American Standard’s impressive flushing demonstration video for the Cadet 3 proves that concern isn’t an issue with this toilet.

To find out how much water and money you can save by installing the Cadet 3 and lots of other water-saving plumbing fixtures, the Professor also recommends that you check out the Responsible Bathroom‘s water-saving calculator.

The recent popularity of water saving, dual-flush toilets has inspired several models of “retrofit” kits, which purport to be able to convert standard toilets (which can use up to 5 gallons of water per flush) to dual-flush by allowing homeowners to choose between a full flush or a half flush, meant to handle liquids only. The desire to conserve water is always a good thing, but the Professor couldn’t help wondering if the claims made by the manufacturers hold water or if consumers would end up flushing their money – not to mention their water savings – down the dual-flush toilet.

After doing some research into the matter, the Professor is not particularly optimistic about these devices. There is currently no independent evidence that these retrofit kits will actually save any water and they may even end up wasting more water than a standard toilet. The main issue is that removing and replacing an original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) flush valve with an after-market product changes the full flush characteristics of the toilet fixture. The full removal of the contents of the bowl is dependent upon delivery of the right amount of water at the correct rate. Changing either of these factors can adversely affect flush performance, which may increase the need for double flushing, thereby increasing water use.

If dual-flush retrofit valves were performance tested with each model of the gravity-fed toilet into which they would be installed, this wouldn’t be an issue. But because such extensive testing would be expensive and largely impractical, it generally isn’t done for dual-flush kits

The Professor also notes that the half-volume flush is particularly vulnerable to providing an unsatisfactory flush because there may not be a complete exchange of water in the bowl. This makes it particularly likely that waste – and toilet paper especially – will remain in the bowl and require a second or even a third flush, completely negating any expected water savings.

The moral of the story: invest in a real, WaterSense-certified dual-flush toilet! They may cost more than a retrofit kit but they can produce real water savings, and will save you money in the long run.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing a new interpretation of the term “showerhead” in the DOE’s regulations related to the energy conservation program for consumer products.

The proposal will re-define showerheads as shower valves, allowing only a single showerhead using no more than 2.5 gallons per minute of water per showering compartment. Unless challenged, the new definition would take place by June 18.  (Source: Supply House Times).

American Standard is all for water conservation and we back many federal, state and local government initiatives, such as the EPA WaterSense program.

This action, however, is a significant step backwards from everything we now know about safe bathing for people of all ages, heights and abilities. Smart shower systems designed by experienced professionals have controls for different showerheads in the same shower enclosure, set at different heights for children, aging-in-place and universal accessibility.

The new definition also threatens to increase costs to build schools and other institutions that require multiple showering areas, since separate shower valves will be required for every showerhead.

Professor Toilet urges everyone to contact the DOE re: Docket No. EERE-2010-BT-NOA-0016

1.  Leave comments for the DOE.

2. Send an email.

3. Write to: Docket No. EERE-2010-BT-NOA-0016, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20585

PS:  Professor Toilet would prefer to see government action along the lines of   “cash for flushers.” (Of course, the Professor brings it back to toilets.)   Water conservation rebates implemented in many cities and counties around the nation have encouraged many homeowners to replace old water wasters with toilets that perform better on less water.

Sadly, no.  This is one to file under, “Too Good to Be True.”

There are several aftermarket retrofit kits available today that promise to transform a standard toilet into a dual flush model that can “save more water than a high priced high-efficiency toilet.”

Unfortunately, these gadgets simply regulate the amount of water entering the bowl and do nothing to alter the water flow in or out of the bowl.  Since bowl design is the most important factor in a toilet’s performance – and even more critical in low-flow toilets – these kits promise far more than they deliver.

As the Professor has previously explained, standard and dual flush toilets have different flushing mechanics.  While standard toilets depend on siphonic action to “pull” waste out of the bowl, dual flush toilets rely on the “push” of water to clear the bowl.  More advanced technology, such as the WaterSense-certified H2Option Dual Flush Toilet, combines the traditional siphonic “pull” force with the newer “push” action associated with the washdown flush.

Because standard toilet bowls are not specifically engineered for less water, homeowners will have as much luck using these retrofit kits as they would adding a brick to the toilet tank.  Both strategies try to “trick” toilet science and will likely result in incomplete flushes.  Worse, users will likely overcome this problem by – you guessed it – flushing again.  Multiple flushes eliminate any possible water savings.

In addition to voiding the American Standard warranty on toilets, installing these types of gadgets will frustrate homeowners and discourage any future use of proven water saving technologies such as HETs and dual flush toilets.

Physics, as it turns out, is it right up there with “can’t fool Mother Nature.”


A Sustainable New Habitat

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A new Habitat for Humanity home in San Antonio

The Professor would like to congratulate The Home Depot Foundation and the great team of American Standard Brands employees for all the great work they did at the 2010 Community Building Invitational, held yesterday in San Antonio, TX.

Fifteen of these new homes, which are being built for Habitat For Humanity, will also feature sustainable bathrooms that include WaterSense-certified faucets, toilets, and showerheads donated by American Standard Brands. A job well done all around.

Many plumbing professionals worry about the ability of water saving toilets to sufficiently carry waste to the sewer. While architects typically determine the sizing, pitch and venting requirements for drain lines, Professor Toilet and other toilet scientists focus exclusively on the science of effective flushing.

Coined “Drain Line Carry,” the ASME Standard requires that every toilet – regardless of water volume used in a flush – be able to drive 100 ¾-inch polypro balls down a 3-inch rigid pipe an average of 40 feet.  All of American Standard’s water closets meet this standard and many, including Champion 4, Cadet 3, Colony FitRight, Evolution2 and H2Option, exceed that requirement by more than 16 feet. Here’s where we test:

Helping to transport waste through drain lines is what engineers term “supplemental flow,” or additional water generated from faucets, showers, clothes washing, etc., which is obviously more prevalent in residential than commercial applications.

In other words, drain line clogging isn’t likely to be caused by a water saving toilet. Other common causes of drain line clogging are broken or misaligned pipes, buildup of grease or grit within the drain, as well as flushing inappropriate materials.

Special note to commercial building professionals: Installations with extremely long drain lines (e.g., shopping malls or industrial sites), may require evaluation on a site-by-site basis, especially if no supplemental flows are available.